Over the last few days my inbox has been inundated by queries from constituents confused by the Welsh Government’s ban on the sale of non-essential goods by supermarkets during the current “fire-break”.
Whilst I suspect this probably began with good intentions and a desire to create an even playing field for high street shops which have been forced to close, there’s no doubt at all it’s causing great anxiety and confusion and has also had the effect of tipping the playing field in favour of large online retailers. This has all resulted in the submission of a petition to the Welsh Parliament - the biggest ever with over 60,000 signatures. For the sake of democracy, the Senedd needs to consider this petition as a matter of urgency and reassure the public that that these decisions are being effectively scrutinised, which is why I’m supporting the growing calls for the Senedd to be recalled.
Personally I think it would have been a lot more straightforward if the rules of the previous lockdown had been implemented or if, at the very least, the sale of all “convenience” goods – a term understood by the retail sector - had been permitted from the start. We are however now where we are and I’m calling on the Welsh Government to review this situation urgently and at least consider relaxing some of the supermarket restrictions in the second week of the lockdown.
It’s vital that businesses get the support they need over the next few weeks and as we come out of lockdown. The UK Government’s Job Support Scheme, the replacement for the Jobs Retention Scheme begins on 1st November and represents the latest line of much-needed funding for employees affected by the current situation and previously furloughed. The Federation of Small Businesses and CBI are among the organisations which have expressed concern about Welsh businesses “falling down the gap” between the old and the new schemes. Meanwhile the Welsh Government has made available up to £5000 for businesses above a rateable value of £12,000 and it’s important they take up this support.
The next few weeks will be challenging for all of us. It’s important we all do what we can to follow government advice, limit the spread of infection and hopefully enter the New Year with a better outlook.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if I can be of assistance to you or your family.